‘The All New, Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenany Hoe Down Jamboree!’ at Maryland Ensemble Theatre by Mike Spain

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Director Tad Janes bills The All New, Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenany Hoe Down Jamboree! as ‘a spoof country variety show.’ It’s really a collection of special guests, bluegrass bands, skits, crowd interactive improvised scenes, and some of the corniest humor you will find. It is also a very ambitious theatrical production with special guests and a large cast. Maryland Ensemble Theatre proves once again they are not afraid to take chances while providing a fun experience for the cast and audience alike.

Julie Herber and Joann Lee. Photo by Joe Williams.

If you like the show you will want to see it again as the show will always be different. Sure there will be a lot of the same jokes and skits, but with five different guest hosts and five different musical guests – there will be surprises. The night I attended, the audience was treated by musical performances by the Midnite Blue Grass Boys who performed four songs during the show. They was also a house band called The Silent Old Mountains, and a guest appearance by a dance couple providing the type of dancing you might see on Dancing with the Stars.

Reiner Prochaska and Ashley Hall. Photo by Joe Williams.

Denny Grizzle plays the part of guest host perfectly. An older lady in the front row got more hugs during the show from Denny than she probably gets in a week thanks to Denny. The crowd participation did not end at hugs. He led a skit where two people in the audience filled in a word – and it was a hoot! He also had someone read lines from a play script as he improvised his lines – which was hilarious! Who knows what the new host will have in store. One thing for sure the audience needs to stay aware.

The cast features just about everyone at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre including Jon Paul Duvall, Julie Herber, Allison Lepelletier, Ken Poisson, Gene Fouche, Thom Huenger, Joann Lee, Courtney McLaughlin, Reiner Prochaska, Ashley Hall, Joe Jalette, Matt Lee, Mak Nichols, and Sam Whalen. Many were multi-tasking: Thom Huenger played banjo in the house band when he wasn’t performing in a skit. Julie Herber performed in the show and served as the costume designer for the 70’s inspired country show.

No one worked harder than Tad Janes who performed and directed the production. He was also in charge of the set design and did a splendid job. He turned one side of the stage to look like a country home. Another corner was a loft. A tree took up the center and there was a movable band stand where the house band performed. There were also some movable plant props as well.

What a fun evening of sketch comedy performed on the main stage. Two hours of variety, talent, comedy and laughs.

Come on down to this Jamboree for a good ol’ toe-tappin’ time.

Running time: About two hours with one 15 minute intermission.

The cast of 'The All New, Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenany Hoe Down Jamboree!' Photo by Joe Williams.
The cast of 'The All New, Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenany Hoe Down Jamboree!' Photo by Joe Williams.

The All New Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenanny Hoe Down Jamboree plays through June 3, 2012, at Maryland Ensemble Theatre – 31 West Patrick Street, in Frederick, Maryland. For tickets call (301) 694-4744, or purchase them online.

More information here.